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Eco-Fashionista
September 2011

Summer Rayne Oakes Models the Future

Eco_FashionistaFashion model Summer Rayne Oakes has created a growing platform for taking eco-fashion mainstream. She’s seen firsthand how a more sustainable lifestyle can start with something as simple as choosing certified organic lip balm or a pair of shoes made from organic cotton and recycled rubber.

Because of her close ties to environmental causes, Oakes is known as “The eco-model.” The title seems to fit her well: She has put her name behind many cause-related programs, including a skincare company that uses active natural ingredients and a maker of recycled eyewear that plants a tree for every pair of frames sold.

She didn’t set out to be the eco-fashionista. Oakes, whose first name derived from being born, she states, on a “rainy summer day,” was raised amid Pennsylvania farmlands north of Scranton and developed a love of nature from an early age. By 13, she was the youngest member of her hometown’s environmental advisory council and after high school, went off to Cornell University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in natural resources and entomology.

 
Green Chic
September 2011

Earth-Friendly, Feel-Good Fabrics

Green_ClothingInnovation is shaping every facet of the eco-fashion industry—from organic crop standards, energy-efficient production, local sourcing, community reinvesting and fair trade, to the recycling of excess fabric and other materials and repurposing used garments.

Yet, half of all textile fibers still come from conventional cotton, which soaks up a quarter of all agrochemicals and insecticides sprayed on the planet, reports Paul Hawken in Natural Capitalism – Creating the Next Industrial Revolution. Cotton also requires 2,600 gallons of water for every pound grown.

Other natural fabric plant fibers are much less resource-intensive. Here are some clues about what to look for.

 
Creative Therapy
September 2011

“The hand is the window on to the mind.” ~ Immanuel Kant

Creative_Therapy"Of all our limbs,” explains Professor Richard Sennett, “the hands make the most varied movements, movements that can be controlled at will. Science has sought to show how these motions, plus the hand’s different ways of gripping and the sense of touch, affect the ways we think.” Sennett expounds at length on this topic in his book, The Craftsman, and teaches sociology at New York University and The London School of Economics and Political Science.

He explains that making things by hand engages the brain in special ways. The furniture maker, the musician, the glassblower or any other person engaged mindfully in arts and crafts needs to first “localize,” or look at just what is there—a piece of wood, a musical instrument or melted glass. The second step is to question—“What can I do with this?” The third is to open up—figure out how to create something unique.

 
Hobby Farming
August 2011

Growing a Good Life from America’s Roots

FarmingSmall-scale farming—whether it’s called hobby farming, market gardening, part-time truck farming or homesteading—satisfies many Americans’ yearning to work the land for pleasure, as well as profit. These days, you’re just as likely to find a hobby farm in the city or suburbs as on a country lane.

Anyone serious about growing a large percentage of their own food, raising animals, tending colonies of bees, nurturing an orchard, generating their own renewable energy onsite or managing a timber stand or pond might be considered a hobby farmer. It’s about living close to the land, caring for it and letting it inspire daily life. It also can contribute to the family’s livelihood through sales of products such as honey, fresh produce, eggs or surplus energy.

“Living on our farm allows us to engage with the natural world with its seasonal patterns, provides many of our family’s needs in a sustainable way and offers a marvelous foundation for our homeschooling adventures,” enthuses Heidi Hankley, who lives with her husband and two kids in a straw-clay insulated home with a wood-fired masonry heater. Her husband commutes to his environmental engineering job in Madison, Wisconsin, and helps out after hours.

 
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